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Lake effect snow to drop narrow band of 1-2 feet in upstate New York

The overall pattern is what’s giving us a taste of snow in parts of the area Thursday and Friday.

Expected snow in upstate New York
Expected snow in upstate New York

ROANOKE, Va. – A large dip in the overall weather pattern, known as a trough, has taken residence in the eastern U.S. This has resulted in a blast of cold air, high wind gusts and the occasional burst of flurries and/or snow in our area.

Farther north, this has set off a persistent lake effect snow event. The worst of which is expected to be in upstate New York. Lake effect snow can become intense, with conditions deteriorating rapidly.

This happens when cold, Arctic air blows over the relatively warm lake water. The warm air from the water rises, cools and expands into a cloud. That cloud, full of snowflakes, will then unleash a blanket of white on those downstream from the lake.

National Weather Service infographic on how lake effect snow forms
National Weather Service infographic on how lake effect snow forms (National Weather Service)

The air will cross Lake Ontario and perhaps even from Lake Huron too, offering up a narrow band of high snow totals north of Syracuse through Saturday. (An additional 1-2 feet will be possible in the areas marked in pink on the map above.)

Lake effect snow set up
Lake effect snow set up

We can feed off of the moisture coming down from Lake Michigan from time to time. The upper level winds, along with energy above us, can produce our typical upslope/west slope/mountain snow showers or snow squalls. This is what we saw earlier Thursday morning.

We’ll see this unfold again, as another disturbance passes through Friday into Friday night. Your greater accumulations are going to happen in areas like Burkes Garden, Whitetop/Mount Rogers, Troutdale, Mountain Lake, Quinwood and Snowshoe.

Lake effect snow at home
Lake effect snow at home

However, it’s likely that we see the occasional burst of snow/flurries advance into parts of the New River Valley, Highlands and Roanoke Valley. Accumulations, if any, would be sporadic and light in this case.

We remain under the influence of this trough Saturday, leading to colder air and a gusty wind. However, we can take snow out of the equation. As high pressure moves southeast of us, the wind will come around it from the west and southwest. This will lead to a much warmer second half of the weekend.

Weekend forecast
Weekend forecast

Afterward, we’ll warm up even more with more rain chances by the middle of next week.


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